Life seems to have paused in this strange era of lockdown and this gives time to reflect and assess where we are on life’s journey. Much of my life has revolved around angling and pursuing various goals. I like to think that I have reached a point where I have realised that it is not the catching that really matters but the memories that are made during the chase.
It is perhaps a disadvantage to be afflicted by a wide fascination with all types of angling. I have tended to flit from one fish to another never really devoting all my energies into one species for any length of time. I have dabbled with competitive angling with some success but it’s not really my thing. For a while I thought I was a bit of a specimen hunter but in truth I just love fishing. Big fish set the heart racing and need to be there lurking in the shadows but they don’t necessarily need to be caught.
Beside me I have a vast library of angling books many dating back into bygone eras many decades before my birth. Delving into the pages of these tomes it is clear that the principles or joys of angling have changed little. An angler at the water’s edge shares those same feelings and emotions. The glimpse of a good fish, the thrill of the take and the devastation of loss when a big fish breaks free or sheds the hook.
I am fortunate to have written two books myself ensuring that my own fishing journey is to a degree recorded for years to come. I have been reading a book on eel fishing by Barry McConnell; The Eel Angler tells of one angler’s obsession with catching big eels. I can relate to the journey the passion and the excitement within the pages. The jaunts, humour and adventure enjoyed during the quest for an outsize eel.
I have never caught a big eel, my biggest weighed a little over 2lb though I have seen eels that have been trapped on the outlet pipes of local reservoirs one of which I estimated at close to ten pounds. A big eel is perhaps a new goal to chase but have I the time to chase yet another mystery?
Non anglers would struggle to understand the motivation to fish the desire to deceive and cradle a creature from a different world in a dimension we can only glimpse into. My favourite book was written by Chris Yates and is entitled ‘Casting At The Sun’. It records the adventures of Chris and his young friends as they seek carp in enchanting lakes hidden at the end of winding country lanes in wooded vales. The book somehow captures the freedom of youth, summer days and nights beside water.
Our son James once commented that he relished those days fishing when you wake in the morning and have nothing more important than the days fishing ahead. Those days are very special for sure and I am often thankful that I have thoughts of fishing to occupy my mind.
When this lockdown is over it will be difficult to know where to cast first. I guess much will depend upon when it is and what the conditions are. If we have had heavy rain salmon and sea trout will be waiting. If it’s hot and dry then perhaps it will a carp or that eel. If there is moderate breeze and the tide is right then I could well take the plugging rod and wander a rocky shoreline. Maybe drift a team of buzzers at Wimbleball. Or maybe……….